I often get asked if the Home Pro 2012 program that Chief Architect makes is a good option for me to use for drawing plans or should they get the Chief Architect Premium package which costs more. Here’s my take on it.
For those on a tight budget Home Pro is an Excellent choice for getting started in the world of 2D and 3D CAD. But user beware (aware) there are significant differences. A proficient CAD user will definitely appreciate the many features offered in Chief Architect Premium that are not included in the Home Pro version. One very important feature the two programs have is common is the ability to share files. The Home Pro and X4 plan files are compatible with each other. I often work with homeowners and contractors that use Home Designer Pro
A full license of Chief Architect X4 is priced at $2,195 and if you add the Software and Support Assurance (SSA) program for $395 the total is $2,590. I highly recommend the annual SSA because you get access to many training videos, library items, unlimited support and any upgrades that become available. Budget for SSA each year.
Home Designer Pro 2012 is a scaled down version of Chief Architect for $495. It’s an excellent option for those on a budget or only need some basic (but excellent) 2D and 3D drawing tools. There is no SSA option available for the Pro version.
Here’s a link to a detailed comparison matrix: http://cloud.chiefarchitect.com/1/pdf/marketing/x4feature-matrix-hdp2012.pdf
- Pro has no Raytrace Rendering. X4′s Raytracing is excellent and I do all of my rending with it.
- Fewer rendering types in Pro
- No CAD Detail libraries or auto detailing tools
- 18×24 max Layout size and 1 layout page at a time per plan.( This would drive me nuts)
- No Layout line editing
- No CAD Detail from view capability
- Max of 3 Floors
- No Time Tracker Tools
- Insert and Exchange Floors in Chief Architect
- Chief files compatible with the Free viewer tool. Pro files are not
- Better room labeling capabilities
- Accurate floor and ceiling layout capabilities
- Can do Raised Floor platforms in Chief Architect
- No Molding Polyline tools in Pro version – (I Use this a lot)
- No Auto polygon room tool in Pro
- No Double wall capability for walls, windows and doors
- Better wall alignment per floor tools
- No Steel framing in Pro
- Can put walls on different layers in Chief Architect - (Very Useful)
- No Counter edge molding tool in Pro
- No Stacked Molding line tools in Pro
- Chief Architect has many, many more cabinet options. Panels, Feet. Moldings, Etc.
- No Architectural Block capabilities in Pro (Create groups of items in the library)
- No Manufacturer cabinet catalogs in Pro – (There are a lot of them)
- NKBA Standards for drawing not in Pro
- Can’t create mulled widows and doors in Pro or add to library
- No Custom muntin tools in Pro
- Fewer roof options in Pro for curved roofs, custom gutters, exposed rafters
- No Auto dormer tools in Pro
- No setting Stair defaults in Pro
- No Custom newels and blasters in Pro
- Better mono slab controls in Chief Architect
- Auto slabs in Crawl spaces in Chief Architect
- Many, many more framing option in Chief Architect
- Change and save framing detail on a per wall basis is Chief Architect
- No 3D slab or Primitive tools in Pro (I could not function without this)
- No CAD Details or ability to add CAD Block to libraries in Pro
- No Multiple Copy or Reflect tools in Pro (These tools SAVE A LOT OF TIME)
- Layer Tools – Chief Layer tools are like a Ferrari Verses Pros which are like a Moped (Enough said)
- Many, Many more dimension tool options in Chief Architect
- No import GPS Text files or DWG in Pro (Harder to import plans drawn by others.)
- No Road and Sidewalk tools in Pro
- 4000 landscape plans in Chief, 2000 in Pro
- No 3D Plants in Pro
- Many more material definition options in Chief for better rendering
- No Symbol Creation tools in Pro
- Pro has limited Manufacturer Catalogs (Chief has a ton of catalogs)
- Chief now has Annotation sets. (Sounds silly but is extremely useful)
- Chief has a “Rich Text” tool. Add text just like a word processor
- Chief includes 3 very nice Blueprint fonts
- Chief Architect has custom labeling macros
- Chief has many, many more import and export options
- No 3D Export in Pro
- Only Chief runs in 64 bit which makes it a lot faster. Pro runs in 32 Bit
- Create custom hot keys in Chief
- Free plan viewer available to read only Chief plan and layout files
- No Software and support program available for Pro
- I’ve listed what I feel are key differences. If you look close at the Matrix there a many others items that I have not listed.
Key decision factors for Chief versus Pro 2012:
- If money is an issue start with Pro. Pro owners get a $500 Rebate towards the purchase of a full Chief Architect Premium license later. You can get started and you’re not out any money when you upgrade.
- If all you do are basic plans and 3D models, Pro will work perfectly for you.
- If you draw a lot of plans you should definitely get Chief Premium. You won’t be sorry you did.
- If you all you do are interiors, baths and kitchens get Chief Interiors.
- Chief is the least expensive option in the marketplace for what it can do. It really is a very powerful tool.
- Chief’s annual $395 Software and Support Assurance SSA program is the best value and least expensive of all major competitors in the market. You get all upgrades, access to all new libraries ( at least 1 new library per month) unlimited technical support and access to all of their training videos that are very beneficial. It’s a very good value.
To Your Success,
PS. Please leave your comments if you’ve had any experiences with the different programs